Saturday, July 28, 2007

Zesty Italian Dressing Mix for gifts

Finally! Here is another recipe for a gift mix and for the recipes I plan to include with it. I’m not sure yet exactly how I will package this mix -- in individual packets, or if I will make up a bunch of it and say that 1 Tblsp. of it equals 1 packet of mix. As you can see, I also came up with a couple of tags/labels for this mix. Enjoy!


1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. each: pepper, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, sweet red pepper flakes
Pinch of paprika

In a custard cup or small bowl, mix all together. Whirl briefly in a blender if you like a finer texture (I skip this step). Makes the equivalent of 1 packet Italian dressing mix. May double or triple the recipe if you need more than one packet of mix in whatever you’re making.


8 ounces cream cheese
1 pkg. dry Italian salad dressing mix
Party rye bread (about 1 loaf)
Cucumber slices (1 to 2 cucumbers)
Paprika or salad seasoning, optional

Combine the cream cheese and salad dressing mix. Spread the mixture on slices of party rye bread. Top each open-face sandwich with a cucumber slice. If desired, sprinkle each with paprika or dry salad seasoning. Refrigerate until serving, and be sure to refrigerate any leftovers.

These little sandwiches make a great appetizer. They also work very well as a tea party type of sandwich.


4 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 envelopes Italian salad dressing mix*
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped (optional)
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 Tblsp. vinegar
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the oil and the dressing mixes. Place in 2 greased or foil-lined 13x9-inch baking pans. Bake, uncovered, at 400º for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool. Transfer to a large bowl; add peppers, onions, tomatoes if using, eggs and bacon. Toss gently. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl to use as a dressing; mix well. Pour over salad and stir gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Yield: 12-16 servings.

This great salad recipe is one I tried out on a team of college guys who did a building project at our church. In spite of the long list of ingredients, this is very easy to make and serves a large group.


1 bunch broccoli, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large green pepper, minced
2 4-ounce cans sliced mushrooms, drained (or use fresh ones)
1 16-ounce can black olives, sliced or simply cut in half
1 small can sliced water chestnuts
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (either halved or left whole)
2 pkg. dry zesty Italian salad dressing mix
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all vegetables in large bowl. Combine all dressing ingredients in covered jar; cover and shake well. Pour over salad; toss well. Cover salad and refrigerate overnight.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ranch Dressing Mix

Well, here is the first installment of my ideas for using spice mixes in little cloth bags -- packaged in ziplocks inside the cloth bags, along with instructions and a couple of recipes for using the mix -- for neat little gifts. Here's my Ranch Dressing Mix recipe, along with 2 recipes I use this blend in. I've also made a couple of little tags so far -- anyone may feel free to use these, or design your own. Enjoy!


2 Tblsp. plus 2 tsp. dried minced onion
1 Tblsp. dried parsley flakes
2 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container -- a jar, tin, or small plastic container would work well. For each packet of ranch dressing mix called for in a recipe, use 1 Tblsp. of this mix.


1 1/4 cups warm water
4 Tblsp. buttermilk powder
2 Tblsp. canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 Tblsp. ranch dressing mix
1 tsp. salt
4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine. Choose the dough setting and press the start button.

When dough is finished, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. Roll each portion into a 14-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal and tuck the ends under. Place seam side down on a parchment-lined (or greased) baking sheet. With a sharp knife, make 5 shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Brush lightly with butter. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Yield: 2 loaves


2 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. (.4 oz.) ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup minced sweet red pepper
1/2 cup minced celery
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/4 cup sliced stuffed olives
Recipe says 4 10-inch flour tortillas -- I say more.

Beat cream cheese and dressing mix until smooth. Add red pepper, celery, onions and olives; mix well. Spread mixture evenly over tortillas; roll up tightly and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours. Slice in 1/2-inch pieces.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nifty idea for Christmas giving

Sometimes ideas just come out of nowhere, apparently. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say ideas are everywhere. An idea came to me unexpectedly this week that I think will be so much fun to use.

I think I may have shared on my other blog how I make personalized cookbooks for gifts for showers, weddings, etc. Briefly, I am working on typing all of my recipes into a word processing document. (I had them all on a floppy disk some years ago and somehow the disk became corrupted and I lost the entire thing. Be that as it may, I have added many more recipes to my list of favorites since then!) Anyway, when a gift-giving occasion comes up, I print out the recipes I think the particular couple will enjoy. Then I embellish the pages with bits and pieces I’ve cut from catalogs and magazines, slip each page into a clear page protector -- I actually put 2 recipes in each one, back to back -- and then put the pages into a binder. I make a nice front and back cover to slip into the clear covers of the binder.

This week I was making one of these books for a bridal shower. As I sorted through my old catalogs to snip out embellishments for the pages, I came across a wonderful idea. The catalog (from 1998) offered for sale neat little packets of spices enclosed in homespun fabric bags tied with raffia. For example, there were things like apple pie spice, chicken soup herbs, etc. Each little bag also contained recipes which made use of the particular spice blend.

I’m sure I had seen these items back when the catalog was new, but it never really clicked with me that these are something I could make for gifts. I love making my own spice and herb mixes and blends and do it all the time -- apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, italian and ranch dressings, taco seasoning mix. I can easily stitch up some little fabric bags and print out some recipe cards which will go with each mix.

Doesn’t this sound like fun? I’m anxious to get started, but know that realistically I don’t have the time in the next couple of weeks. I will, however, begin listing down what mixes I’ll make and what recipes I can use to go with each one.